Great storytelling is key to success in marketing and social media, and no one knows this better than Olivia Cullen.
Cullen, Vidyard’s social media specialist, uses the art of storytelling to drive exceptional engagement with the EveryoneSocial user newsletters (what we call “content emails”).
We’ll explore exactly how she does this and share her best practices below. But first, let’s start where all great stories do: at the beginning…
Vidyard Meets EveryoneSocial
Vidyard, the Ontario-based SaaS company behind one of the leading enterprise platforms for video messaging, hosting, and analytics, is certainly no stranger to the early adoption of new trends and ideas in the technology space.
Since its 2005 founding, inspired by YouTube’s launch, the software company has stayed ahead of the curve.
So when Vidyard had the opportunity to take what it already does well — virtual selling through video — and expand its impact by capitalizing on employee networks through social selling, the company jumped right in.
Initially, Vidyard managed its employee social sharing program through another technology platform + manual processes. Although all started off well, there were some setbacks and the company was left without a technology option to help manage its program. Thankfully, Vidyard was quick to adapt, and EveryoneSocial was able to begin our partnership with them shortly after!
Beginning on our 1.0 platform in 2019, Vidyard saw its program take off. Employees really seemed to enjoy finding, engaging with, and sharing content with ease.
But as the program grew, Charlie Rogers, Vidyard’s social media manager and the admin of its EveryoneSocial program, realized that it was time to bring on someone to help.
A Storyteller Takes the Reins
Olivia, a recent University of Waterloo graduate, was eager to make an impact when she joined the Vidyard team in June of 2021 to assist with its advocacy program.
This was no simple mission. Change is hard, and new platforms can be tough to get used to. We’ve all been there!
But any professional will tell you that success comes through persistence and trial and error. So as the Vidyard team worked with its EveryoneSocial customer success manager (CSM) to train users on the new platform and drive excitement for it, Olivia devised a plan for her first content email.
She knew these emails had to stand out in employees’ inboxes to prompt them to open. And if she was going to drive engagement within EveryoneSocial, she also knew the emails’ content would have to entice people to click.
So she decided to have some fun and try something new.
Here’s how she did it
Let’s take a look at Olivia’s process, so you can steal her expert storytelling tips for yourself. 😉
She writes how she speaks.
This gives the emails a personality and the reader someone to envision behind the illustrious email curtain.
It brought authenticity and fun to an otherwise potentially mundane communication.
Pro tip: Use this tactic, but still ensure you’re being grammatically correct. Whether that’s by enlisting your in-house copywriter, or using a tool like Grammarly.
She draws on real-life inspiration.
Creative burnout is real, and we’ve all dealt with writer’s block.
To combat this challenge, Olivia keeps a “quote book” and writes down things that catch her attention or make her laugh.
Even something as simple as the language someone uses during a random interaction can be inspiration for a particular character archetype that she can add to her content emails.
And she says she’s continually inspired by storytellers that draw on their own real-life experiences.
She identifies a theme for each email.
“Ralph Lauren’s Birthday.” 👉 Believe it or not, this was the subject line that set everything in motion for Olivia’s winning emails.
And her email themes run the gamut from a designer’s birthday to the Revolutionary War to Sagittarius Season.
Olivia expertly finds ways to connect these seemingly random topics back to what’s important: getting her users into EveryoneSocial and working their social-selling magic.
Pro tip: Check out The History Channel’s site This Day in History for a little inspiration just like Olivia does.
What happened when Olivia applied this new strategy to Vidyard’s content emails?
That first email had an 85% open rate — more than double the rate she aimed to maintain. 🤯
And her email strategy is still going strong. In fact, Vidyard currently averages a 75% open rate.
Why this Email Strategy Works
Let’s take a look.
1. It taps into the power of storytelling.
Olivia uses a skill that’s not just for the likes of Charles Dickens and Roald Dahl.
Storytelling is used throughout the business world as well. It captures readers’ attention and helps the brain remember what it’s read, making it an excellent sales and marketing tool.
This means that Olivia really thinks about her voice and how it plays a role in her email stories.
Also, she mentioned that, odd as it may seem, her longer content emails occasionally perform better than the shorter ones simply because of the captivating story she’s written.
And finally, consider how your email formatting plays a role in the story you tell.
Are you using large paragraphs of text or using a variety of text, formatting and visuals to help emphasize particular points?
Try reading your “story” out loud. If there are places that you delivered differently than how it reads, change it!
“Storytelling is the most engaging way to capture attention and get [readers] invested.” -Olivia
2. It sets consistent expectations.
We all have routines. Whether that’s brushing our teeth or watching Jeopardy!, routines help us know what to expect.
And this is why Vidyard’s employees continue to open Olivia’s content emails.
They knew that within each email, they’d find something useful and entertaining, so they kept coming back for more.
3. It’s just plain fun.
Recently, AdAge.com posted an article about lessons for 2022 with a point applicable here: “We want to be entertained, distracted and engaged. Your ads need to be more interesting and entertaining than the content that surrounds them.”
This is exactly the challenge that Olivia found herself in, and by bringing a more personable, playful tone to the emails, she’s able to stand out and get the action she wants.
“The informality can be equally as productive [as formality].” -Olivia
4. It highlights company culture.
We do want to acknowledge that the advice provided here is entirely based on the fact that the company culture and brand of Vidyard is aligned with this “fun” and unique approach.
What we hope you can take away from this though, is that you may have more “wiggle room” than you think. Even if that’s just signing off with your name, you never know if that can be just the little bit of extra flavor needed to make the email experience more personal.
Remember, authenticity and staying true to who you are can go a long way. (And really, that’s the basics behind what makes employee advocacy work!)
Creating Success with EveryoneSocial
Vidyard’s results speak for themselves. Between Olivia’s efforts on the content emails and the true partnership with its EveryoneSocial CSM, Vidyard experienced the following since transitioning to 2.0:
- 100% increase in engagements per share
- 16% increase in brand reach
- 15% increase in clicks per share
- 8% increase in users
And its content emails average:
- 75% open rate (marketing benchmark is ~30%)
- 16% click rate (marketing benchmark is ~3%)
To wrap up this awesome success story, we’ll leave you with Olivia’s thoughts about taking on the content emails originally, compared with where she is now:
“[The content emails have] improved my confidence in copywriting. [They have] improved my ability to write social copy. I’m more confident in my voice. And know that what I think is ‘silly’ has a space in a work environment.”
Impressed by the results in this customer story? We are, too!
Content emails are just one of many features we offer that help our customers drive more authentic employee engagement through EveryoneSocial.